Anyone who’s ever loved an animal understands what a positive impact they can have on the lives of their human best friends. And it’s no secret that pets are proven to promote better psychological and physical health (barring those with allergies), especially when it comes to people who have been through any sort of trauma or are suffering from PTSD.
Indeed, as many as 20 percent of all veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 300,000) reported symptoms of PTSD.* And when you consider that 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters each year (1.5 million are euthanized)**, it doesn’t take much to put two and two together.
It’s true that no matter what someone has or hasn’t been through, anyone can benefit from pet ownership, but veterans in particular seem like a natural fit. And, in the spirit of altruism and profound gratitude, there are several wonderful organizations and companies that are committed to making it easier for veterans to not only find their perfect furry companions, but also to care for them throughout a lifetime.
Pet Adoption for Vets
Whether a veteran has their heart set on a particular type of pet or would prefer being matched with their new best friend by experts, organizations like Pets for Patriots, Pets for Vets and Vets Adopt Pets are here to make it easier for vets to adopt by waiving or lowering adoption fees, providing support and, in some cases, free training or discounted access to quality veterinary care.
- Pets for Patriots – Founded in 2010, this outstanding nonprofit was created “for the love of veterans and shelter pets and are hoping to have locations in all 50 states by 2018.Pets for Patriots require applicants to live within 40 miles of a partnering shelter within 15 miles of a partnering veterinarian so they can take advantage of their special 10 percent discount on medical care. Upon adoption, new veteran pet “parents” will receive a $150 gift card to use toward food and supplies.
- Pets for Vets – For those interested in being professionally “matched” with the perfect furry partner, this nonprofit utilizes their original Super Bond™ process. Once an veteran is approved, Pets for Vets reaches out to become more acquainted, asking questions about lifestyle, expectations, needs, etc.This information is used as criteria for their team to choose a pet that will be a perfect fit for the applicant. As if that weren’t enough, the new pet is then placed in the home of a professional trainer, who uses positive reinforcement to ensure they will be ready to transition seamlessly to their new owner’s home. A Welcome Package of food and supplies is included.
- Vets Adopt Pets – This organization works with donors and shelters to not only provide free or discounted pet adoptions for veterans, but also to find homes for military dogs and assist veterans who are in need of service dogs.Their website is a wealth of information and training tips so new owners can hit the ground running and have the best chance of success. Vets Adopt Pets encourages prospective owners to visit local shelters and, if they aren’t already affiliated, to talk to them about the program. Once a shelter is introduced, they are usually delighted to help with such a great cause.
While all these organizations, and ones like them, have their own sets of offerings, conditions and procedures, they all deliver healthy companions that are spayed/neutered and up-to-date on shots. In addition, they all feature online applications, for which you’ll need to provide some personal information and a copy of your DD-214.
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